Downtown Allentown saw its first new bank many years ago when KNBT opened in the PPL building, said J.B. Reilly, president of City Center Lehigh Valley.
He described the bank, now known as National Penn, as an organization that leads by example.
"We haven't had a bank headquartered in Allentown since 1989," said Reilly.
All that will change when National Penn moves its headquarters to the site next spring.
That sentiment was repeated by several speakers who detailed the city's revitalization efforts yesterday during a beam signing for Two City Center on the top floor of the 600 Linden St. parking deck. As workers from North Star Construction set steel beams in place for Two City Center, an 11-story office building rising across from the parking deck, speakers marked the occasion with more than 300 guests.
Reilly said there will be more than 600 people working in downtown Allentown once Two City Center is complete next year.
"We're anxious to open this building by next May, maybe sooner," said Reilly.
Describing it as the beginning of the rejuvenation of Allentown, Mayor Ed Pawlowski said projects such as these are going to be a model for cities not just throughout the commonwealth, but throughout the U.S.
"I think it will draw people from around the region," said Pawlowski. "This building can house more than 800 employees."
Reilly said National Penn Bancshares President and CEO Scott Fainor stepped up to provide necessary funding to keep the project going when no one else would.
Fainor said with more than 100 National Penn employees present, he could not be more proud to represent the bank.
After guests signed the beam, workers will place it on the roof of the new structure.